Stoke Streetby Roger Young, images Justin McGee / 04.01.2010
“They go out every day, whatever the conditions,” says Tom from Umthombo as the kids are suiting up. It’s Saturday, nearly noon and the young surfers have been held back from their morning surf because they were waiting for us to deliver the eleven boards that one of Mahala’s faithful, Josh Reynolds, has collected over the Christmas season.
As Tennyson and some of the others bring the boards in, the newer street kids, those in phase one of the program, still living on the street, just being taught the basics in a swimming pool, stand around and look at the boards, some dinged and some in pristine condition, hunger in their eyes. These kids are in that stage where they have started to desire more waves, better boards and a stable life.
This is what Umthombo does, it helps street kids that are addicted to glue to become addicted to waves. As they watch the older more experienced surfers inspect the boards and discuss the merits of each one, astounded smiles creep onto their faces. They will not get these boards now, for there is a system here that means they only get the good boards when their surfing improves and they are able to temper their behaviour, to start fitting back into society. But any new influx of boards means that there is hope, these boards represent a goal, something to work towards.
Andile is happy that the boards are here, for the other kids, but now he just wants to surf, he has his board out and is waxing it in anticipation, three years ago he was living on the street, now he attends school, which is a bummer, because it means he can only surf afternoons and Saturdays and by us being late we have kept him from his precious, life giving waves. So we let them go, twenty surfers walking to the beach, stoked to be getting some waves, to have something to live for.
All images © and courtesy Justin McGee